|The next year Bear Ridge introduced a new street stock division and the old Nova seemed a perfect fit. It was, and Chris, Bill and Jeff won their 1st championship. After a couple of years in the street stock division Chris convinced his father they needed to move up to the late model division.|
The team purchased an asphalt late model from Mark Marsh and converted it to a dirt car and as Chris put it, "got run over for a year!" They figured things out during the second year and won another Bear Ridge championship. The next few years brought more wins and a championship at the Canaan, NH racetrack.
Donnelly's only venture into the world of asphalt came in the mid 1990s when Gary Siemens offered him a ride in a modified at White Mountain Motorsport Park in North Woodstock, NH. The guys ran a handful of races towards the end of the season.
In 1996 the late model was sold and a modified purchased, but by the early 2000s the 358s started to dwindle in numbers. Chris thought the IMCA modifieds were neat, "they had big motors and little tires, they were sorta like a street stock on steroids! It was the hardest thing to drive I'd ever been in, but it was the best learning experience I ever had in a race car."
After 2 years it was back to the modifieds running a built-motor modified then racing in the crate-motor division at Bear Ridge. In 2008 he ran a partial season and in 2009 finished 2nd in points even after missing several races.
In 2010, veteran modified racer and car owner Si Allen offered Chris a ride in a 360 winged sprint car competing in the Sprint Cars of New England (SCoNE) touring series. These high horsepower cars are a handful: "The sprint cars are a lot of fun. They're fast enough so you're pretty well scared all the time!" Chris accepted the challenge and in his first year won the 2010 championship, finished 2nd in 2011 and followed that up with consecutive SCoNE championships in 2012 and 2013. And if that wasn't hard enough, Chris also won the modified championship at Bear Ridge in 2013.
How does he do it? Attention to detail, that's how. I asked him what his secret was and he said, "Leave the car alone. We run the same setup all night long; we don't change gears or tires at the track." It was obvious after touring his shop, checking out his race car and talking to him, his maticulous approach to racing is a winning one.